Cruise the aisles of any drug store or large store chain, and you will find rows upon rows of at-home dye kits. Beautifully photo-shopped covers promise exotic hues and smooth, buttery textures—promises that are not often kept. While there is no lasting harm in experimenting with dye, many men and women using drug store dye find themselves in the midst of a bad dye job and are desperate for a fix. Never fear—help is here.
So, You’ve Got a Bad Dye Job
A bad dye job might qualify for a number of reasons:
- Brassy Color
- Patchy Coverage
- Poor Color Results
- A Failure to “Take” Effectively
Each of these problems can be fixed, some with more attention to hair, and others with a small, simple treatment. These potential treatments are discussed in greater detail below.
Brassy color is typically caused by using dye with too many gold or copper undertones. Combined with a mane already possessing copper undertones, these dyes often end up appearing brassy, flat, and, frankly, unattractive. Fortunately, there is a simple fix for brassy tones, whether you decide to fix it yourself or seek out the help of a professional.
Brassy color can be reversed or corrected with the use of ash or cool tones in your chosen dye. Hair should be stripped of the offending color (often readily achieved by shampooing several times immediately after dye has been applied), then covered over with a color boasting cool or ash tones. When seeking out a color to achieve this balance, search for colors with the words “cool”, “ash”, and “winter” in the title and/or description.
As with brassy color, the first step is to strip tresses of the poor color. After this has been done, consider using double the amount of dye initially used; the most common culprit of poor coverage is simply not having enough dye. Rather than purchasing a single box, consider purchasing two. Many men and women have dry, brittle locks that “drink” liquids, resulting in the need for more product.
Also consider purchasing coloring formulated especially for gray coverage or resistant hair. These dyes are formulated to tackle resistant, dry, and thick locks, and may offer greater moisture and coverage than a standard type of coloring. If it continues to look patchy, consider lightening or darkening hair gradually; a drastic change will reveal patchy hair more readily, while a gradual change will allow for some amount of error.
Poor Color Results
Poor color results occur for a variety of reasons. The most common reason is an incompatibility with hair color or type; extremely dark hair, for instance, will not work well with light dyes, and extremely thick hair may not work with standard dyes. These issues will be tackled individually.
- Dark Hair: If you are working to lighten dark tresses, simply using a light-colored dye will not produce the desired results. Instead, you must first lighten (or bleach), then apply the color you are hoping to achieve. Bleach, unfortunately, can prove quite unpredictable, and is best applied by a professional rather than a novice at home.
- Thick, Dense Hair: If you are attempting to color extremely thick, dense locks, you should seek out dyes formulated for your hair type. Thick hair may prove more difficult to penetrate than normal to fine hair, and may need a greater chemical power to achieve desired results.
If neither of these issues pertains to you, consider looking at the dye you have purchased. Most come with a description of the hair color best suited to that particular dye. If your color results are not as desired, check this description and seek out a color prescribed to your own natural color.
Failing to “Take”
Some men and women race home, pop open the box of dye and apply it, only to discover a complete lack of change. If this is you, there may be a number of causes. The most common cause is a failure to follow instructions to the letter; some dyes require hair to be clean and dry, while others should be used on wet, day-old tresses. If your dye did not work, first check to make sure you have followed all instructions properly.
If this is not the issue, check the “best by” date on the box, as well as the hair types and colors suggested for the dye. Some dyes have short expiration windows, while others are formulated for a very specific type and color of hair.
If neither of these issues can be applied to your situation, consider seeing a professional. A professional hair dresser will likely be able to “diagnose” the issue and will have access to stronger, higher quality dye products and tools.
Perhaps you have already dyed your hair—a vampiric black or deep purple—and have experience wonderful color results on your tresses. Perhaps, unfortunately, your skin has also taken on a lovely new color. While prevention is always best (petroleum jelly is your friend), there are measures you can take to remove dye from skin.
The easiest remedy is shampoo. As soon as you discover spots on your skin, apply a strong shampoo to the area, massaging firmly and in circles. Wipe away with a rag after several minutes. If this is not a strong enough method, apply fingernail polish remover to a cotton swab and run this over the dye stain. Though it may sting, it can typically remove even difficult stains. Finally, if even this method does not work, make a paste using baking soda and dish soap and apply this to the area, once again massaging in circles. Remove mixture immediately after resolving the stain.
The Joys of At-Home Dye
The lure of beautiful, rich colors is almost too much to bear while cruising the local supermarket aisles. While experiments with these box dyes can turn out beautifully, they can also be cause for chagrin. Using the tips and troubleshooting listed above, men and women can use these dyes without fear, and try on new colors at will.